A small village in an area of outstanding natural beauty, Dalyan is historic, unhurried and very hard to leave. Set on the south west corner of Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, Dalyan is an unspoilt village surrounded by pine-clad hills, cotton fields and miles of untouched coastline. A traditional little fishing village nestling on the riverbank near Lake Koycegiz, it’s close to the astonishing rock tombs carved out of the local cliffs 2,500 years ago.
The surrounding area is a green valley – a unique setting for a relaxing holiday to Turkey, and just made for exploring. So if you like to do far more than stretch out in the sun, Dalyan’s rich tapestry of history, mystery, nature and wonder is for you. At just 25 km from Dalaman airport, transfer times are refreshingly short too.
Set inland on the banks of the Dalyan River, the village of Dalyan is a peaceful holiday backwater unspoilt by mass tourism. The romance of the place is heightened each morning as a fleet of gaily-painted boats chug off down the river carrying holidaymakers to the glorious sandy beaches at the mouth of the river delta. Starting from Dalyan Harbour the voyage through beds of bulrushes and pampas grass takes around 45 enjoyable minutes – the entire Delta is a protected National Conservation area and is home to over 100 species of birds along with no less than three varieties of turtle, including the Loggerhead Caretta Caretta.
A popular activity among tourists visiting Dalyan is to take a mud bath on the bank of the river. The mud supposedly contains minerals such as calcium and magnesium which are beneficial for the skin and overall health. There are also hot natural water springs a little distance away from Dalyan but also accessible by boat.
Dalyan itself lies inland, but there is a magnificent four kilometre long, white sand beach just around the corner from Dalyan harbour – take boat trips from here to get a great look at the picturesque coast. There are plenty of activities to keep you occupied including scuba diving, white water rafting and mountain biking. Take a little longer on the boat, and you’ll reach gorgeous Iztuzu beach, whose fine white shelving sands make it ideal for sunbathing and swimming. It is also a conservation area and one of the last nesting grounds of the endangered loggerhead turtle. The best time to see them is at dawn from May to September. This charming beach rarely gets crowded, too, so it’s picture-perfect in more ways than one.
The ancient rock tombs of the Kings have become another symbol of Dalyan after the famous Sea Turtles, Caretta Carettas. Although there are many rock tombs around the area, the most famous are those which look direct to the Dalyan town from the opposite side of the river. These tombs are the resting places of the Kings of Caunos. They are carved in the style of Lycian rock tombs.
The ruins of the ancient city of Caunos are close by and can by reached by boat or on foot. It was originally on the sea, but its harbour gradually silted up and felt into disuse. It has only been partially excavated but the remains are extensive and include a theatre dating from the 2nd century BC, Roman baths, temple of Apollo and agora or marketplace.